PETALING JAYA, Feb 27 — Being a woman can often feel like living in a constant catch-22 situation — you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
This dilemma provided the core inspiration for a haunting video released by Girls. Girls. Girls. magazine starring Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon, who narrated excerpts from Camille Rainville’s 2017 blog post “Be A Lady”.
The powerful piece reveals the contradictory messages directed at women of all ages, covering issues such as outfit policing, body image, sexuality, motherhood, and more.
“Be a lady, they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Don’t show so much skin. Don’t be a temptress. Men can’t control themselves. Men have needs,” Nixon says as images of fashion shoots and tabloid covers flash across the screen.
Interestingly, many of the scenes are plucked from photoshoots carried out for Girls, Girls, Girls, perhaps hinting at the role of media outlets in endorsing conflicting ideas of what it means to fit in as a woman.
The script then takes a 180-degree turn, further highlighting the impossible standards placed upon the shoulders of women today.
“Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it. Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down.”
The video also features clips of high-profile men who were either accused or found guilty of being sexual predators, including US President Donald Trump and Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
“Pleasure men. Be experienced. Be sexual. Be innocent. Be dirty. Be virginal. Be sexy. Be the cool girl. Don’t be like the other girls,” Nixon continues.
Since its release on Vimeo four days ago, “Be a Lady They Said” has amassed over 4.3 million views.
Nixon also shared the project on her personal Twitter page.
Proud to be involved with this powerful film that has struck a chord with so many people around the world: https://t.co/IcK7Tco5T3 #bealady #girlsgirlsgirlsmag
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) February 25, 2020
Reactions to the video have been overwhelmingly positive and many social media users have been praising Nixon for shedding light on an important message about gender equality.
This is amazing! I am sharing it with all of my fierce female friends, especially moms of daughters. I want my daughter to BE whatever they want to be!
— Kim Monroe (@kmonroe224) February 25, 2020
#YesToAllOfThis #BeaLadyTheySaid the editing of the images to the text shows everyone all of the mixed messages we are sent from day 1. Thank you ??
— Amos Perrunos de Moratalaz (@PerrunosAmos) February 26, 2020
Incredible work. And incredible how any of us can navigate our way through these messages. Highlights the importance of those people in our lives who see us for who we are, not who we ‘should’ be.
— SheBrif (@TheSpecialEgg) February 26, 2020
Recognised my experience in all of it.
— Natalie (@natrose38) February 26, 2020